Between Tongue and Bettyhill the main A836 cuts across a broad promontory and remains some miles south of the north coast. A seven mile loop of minor road, single track of course, heads out to the coast, connecting together a series of small scattered crofting settlements. Assuming you've started at the eastern end, these include Borgie, Torrisdale, Airdtorrisdale, Skerray, Clashneddy, Clashbuie, Tubeg, Achnabat and Modsarie. We've grouped them together in this feature, which uses Skerray as the name which seems most often to be used to cover this distinctive and fascinating area.
Skerray itself lies towards the northern end of the loop and is home to a post office and shop; and an art gallery housing the work of local artists. A surprise is to find a number of thatched cottages here. Nearby is Skerray Harbour, reached by a spur of road off the main loop. This is formed from part of Skerray Bay and is a remarkably beguiling place. At the end of the 1800s a visitor noted that "25 boats and 120 men and boys are employed in the fisheries" here and at Torrisdale. There are far fewer boats today, though some still use the harbour. It's no real surprise to find that the population of the area fell from 500 in 1926 to around 100 by the 1980s. (Continues below images...)
Torrisdale is home to the - apparently disused - corrugated iron "tin" Torrisdale Church, which was erected here in about 1900 from, like many other "tin" buildings across the Highlands, prefabricated parts.
The burial ground at Torrisdale offers views towards Bettyhill along the length of Torrisdale Bay. We've seen it suggested that this may occupy the site of an old chapel. The nearby beach was used to export salted salmon and beef in barrels made on site.
There are some fascinating memorials in the burial ground. Perhaps the most intriguing of them is a very beautiful marble angel on a plinth, partly covered by yellow lichen. According to the inscription, the memorial was "erected in ever loving memory of my dearly beloved wife Peggy James, aged 35, and my two darling children Patricia, aged 9, and Jacqueline, aged 4, who were lost at sea from the S.S. Saigaing, 19th Oct. 1939". Something about the wording, perhaps the use of the word "from" rather than "with" before the ship's name attracted our attention. The background turns out to be particularly tragic. The ship was en route from Gibraltar to Liverpool when it was attacked by a U-boat in the North Atlantic on the night of 18/19 October 1939. Some passengers boarded a lifeboat. The U-boat did not press home its attack and the ship made it safely to Liverpool: but the passengers in the lifeboat were lost.
Near the eastern end of the loop is the settlement of Borgie, which is home to the Borgie Lodge Hotel.